“Infested” is the kind of episode that some Star Wars fans might call “filler” and unnecessary this late in the season. It is also the kind of episode that could have larger implications for the characters moving forward in the season and, possibly, future seasons. Much like “The Gunslinger” from The Mandalorian was collectivity disliked but in hindsight was a significant episode to the overall story, so to can “Infested” prove to be for The Bad Batch. Here are some thoughts on the episode:
The Temptation of Routine
Time has passed between “Rescue on Ryloth” and this episode as the Bad Batch returns from another mission for Cid. They do not know that they are officially targets of Crosshair, but they do know that a bounty hunter is after them, so the decision to stay on Ord Mantell is curious. Things change when they return and find Cid’s Parlor filled with soldiers and her office occupied by Roland Durand, a strangely handsome Devaronian. Omega wants to help Cid, but Cid is waiting for them in their ship with the “I kept your secret” card to play, threatening the team into helping her get her business back. The plan involves stealing some spice that Roland has acquired for the Pykes. Things fall apart, leaving Cid and the Bad Batch forced to retrieve the spice from an infested underground cave.
On one hand, it is understandable that the Bad Batch has fallen into this routine of putting up with Cid almost getting them killed. While she does pay them, she also continues to lightly blackmail them. On the other hand, they should take the risk of Cid tipping off bounty hunters and get out of Ord Mantell. When have things ever worked out well for characters on the run in Star Wars that stay in one place? Cid’s problem should have been a wake-up call for the Bad Batch to leave after surviving the Pykes, but routine is seductive to soldiers. While the Bad Batch has always been unconventional, they were still soldiers. The regime of waking up, completing a mission, going to sleep, and repeat must be a welcome familiarity. I am sure they will come to regret settling into that familiarity.
Into the Underworld
Without Jedi in the picture, it is up to bounty hunters and criminals to carry the weight of intrigue in this show. While Bounty Hunters could still factor into the last three episodes, we have the Pykes (which we have met in The Clone Wars) and the Durand Family (which we have not met). His mother, Isa Durand, is a big deal, and Roland was only trying to thrive in her shadow. We know that we are not supposed to completely hate Roland because he loves his pet lizard, Ruby, and guys who love their pets can not be THAT bad in an animated Star Wars show. Besides, more dangerous sharks are circling the team as Roland has made the business deal with the Pyke Syndicate. When things go south, Omega and Roland find themselves used as leverage by the Pykes, but the two bond over Ruby.
In the end, Roland makes it out with a chopped-off horn, thanks to Omega. While I doubt we will see the Pykes again, Roland seems like a reoccurring character in some capacity. He owes Omega his life, and they could use all the help available against Crosshair.
The Big Bad Bugs and a Creature Feature
The Disney+ shows and comics have fully embraced the creature feature, pulpiness that permeated the 70s with giant spiders, brain worms, and plant monsters. This episode had thousands of giant flying bugs that we never get a clear look at their appearance, but the sound design does the heavy lifting for atmospheric horror. The creatures have made a massive hive underground where Cid and the team travel by rail cart to get to her office. When the bugs are disturbed by the Durand Family’s muscle, the winged horrors come out and swarm everyone. When the spice gets dropped into the abyss of the hive during the fray, Cid and Wrecker have to retrieve it all to pay off the debt. Because we do not see what these creatures look like, it is more disturbing and chaotic watching our heroes get attacked. Aside from the occasional shots that explode the bugs into a mass of green goo, they are pushed back by a light bomb that Tech constructs. Cid owes the Bad Batch big time for this mission.
Credits and Debits
And that is the takeaway from this episode…that favors are owed to the Bad Batch. The team has made Cid a lot of credits, and they continue to run jobs for her even though their debt is paid in full. Cid would be out of business, and Roland would be dead if not for our heroes.
That is what keeps this episode from being “filler” or out of place in the season. I think the Bad Batch goodwill towards both Cid and Roland will pay off, likely within the final episodes if they depart Ord Mantell. The planet is one of the few that avoids complete subjugation by the Empire; however, Imperials do end up exerting some control through the government out of fear that it would become attractive for a Rebel base. The Bad Batch could also be the beginning of the Empire’s meddling in the seedy planet, and Cid’s Parlor might have to pick up and move anyways. I would not mind a Cid, Bolo, and Ketch traveling parlor and gambling den. Speaking of Bolo and Ketch, it is nice to see the two regulars of Cid’s Parlor get more to do instead of the background, comic relief (although they always make the most of their screen time, no matter how small).
With three episodes left to wrap up the season, I would not be surprised if we do not see a Bad Batch/Crosshair confrontation until the final two episodes. There are other plot threads to tie up, including the Kaminoans’ pursuit of Omega and Cad Bane and what happened with Captain Howzer and his troopers. Neither of these plotlines needs to wrap up by the end, but a check-in before the season credits roll would be appreciated.